Early Impressions of Blur

In a world where Gran Turismo 5 and Need For Speed: Hot Pursuit have just come out, picking up Blur seems like an odd choice. This PGR/Mario Kart hybrid didn’t exactly set the world on fire, but the demo left enough of a positive impact on me to keep it on my ‘buy it eventually’ list, which I finally did over the weekend.

It’s a shame that this game did not get a foothold among gamers, cause it’s kind of awesome.

Blur is best described as a realistic version of Mario Kart. It features real cars and real locations, but the tracks aren’t real and the power-ups certainly aren’t either. The tracks I’ve played so far are really fun and the weapons all work as you would expect them to. There’s definitely some strategy involved in how you use and store your items, which does add some depth to the system.

The actual driving mechanics I think will be the deal-maker or deal-breaker for players. If you’re expecting this game to handle like Mario Kart, then you will be in for a rough ride. I’m pretty sure the game is built on the Project Gotham Racing engine, which is grounded in driving simulation. They’ve made tweaks to make driving more accessible, but you’re going to have to drift sooner or later. Drifting has always been the one thing I can’t do in a racing sim, and it’s something I’m still struggling to do here. At least with Blur, you can minimize the amount of drifting you need to do by choosing a car with a lot of grip.

While I would have liked to have seen the driving tuned to be a bit more arcade-like, it’s a lot of fun to play. Even with my drifting troubles, I can still hold my own. My brother and I played a few hours of split-screen together and had a great time. If you enjoy split-screen gaming, this supports four-player, which is awesome. For local multiplayer, the game also gives players a lot of options to play with, which allows you to tweak the races however you like. If you’d rather play full-screen, the game supports system link and online play. I haven’t played any online since the demo, but my brother has been having a lot of fun with it and I’m looking forward to hitting the streets myself.

If you’re in the market for some hot racing action and the current crop of racing games aren’t up your alley, don’t be afraid to give Blur a shot. It looks great, plays great and has a number of hooks to keep you coming back. I’m not sure if the multiplayer demo is still available on XBOX Live or PlayStation Network, but I think it’s at least worth a rental. If you like it, you can pick it up for pretty cheap nowadays.

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